The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Drip Coffee Maker for Your Perfect Cup of Joe
Looking for that perfect cup of joe to kickstart your mornings? Well, look no further because we've got the ultimate guide to the best drip coffee maker. Whether you crave the timeless appeal of the Cuisinart Classic Thermal or the high-tech convenience of the Amazon Basics 12-Cup Digital Coffee Maker, we've curated a list of the top contenders. But we didn't stop there – we've also uncovered the hidden gem in the Coffee 10-Cup Programmable Coffee Machine. So, get ready to elevate your coffee game as we dive into the world of these exceptional brewing marvels.
Cuisinart Classic Thermal
The Breville Precision Brewer had the most components to handle when unboxing. It includes all the additional features you would expect from a Breville, such as functioning as a cold brew coffee maker. However, we were not fond of its design. The filter basket is quite bulky, and the lid to the water tank does not connect to the machine. Furthermore, the water reservoir does not fully drain, leaving about half an ounce of liquid at the end of each cycle. While this is a minor quirk, it is unexpected in a machine that costs $300.
Hamilton Beach BrewStation
In the budget category, we tested the Hamilton Beach BrewStation, which brews coffee in an internal reservoir and dispenses it like a fountain soda. While this is an unusual feature, we did not find it worth experimenting with because the coffee it produced was below par.
Calphalon 14-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
Calphalon's coffee maker offers the same features as the Braun model, with the exception of the water filter and water hardness settings. The coffee produced by the Calphalon machine was on par with the Braun. We recommend the Calphalon without hesitation for the same reasons we recommend the Braun as a budget option. However, the Braun is slightly more affordable and we preferred its interface, so it takes the top spot.
Amazon Basics 12-Cup Digital Coffee Maker
Mr. Coffee 10-Cup Programmable Coffee Machine
Mr. Coffee machines often receive criticism, but if you upgrade from the basic models, you can find a satisfactory coffee maker. The coffee from this 10-cup model was not exceptional as it was slightly watery, but for those who prefer utilitarian coffee, it gets the job done. Additionally, it comes with a thermal carafe that keeps the coffee warm on the table for a couple of hours. One nice feature of the Mr. Coffee machine is the detachable water reservoir, which is more convenient to fill compared to the typical method of pouring water into the back of the machine with most inexpensive coffee makers. However, the coffee from the Braun and Calphalon machines was simply better. The Mr. Coffee machine is also the only budget option we tested that does not come with a reusable filter.
Coffee 10-Cup Programmable Coffee Machine
Black & Decker 12-Cup Coffee Maker
The Black & Decker machine includes a nice thermal carafe, but that does not make up for the fact that the coffee it brews has a dirty taste, almost like dirt itself. While some individuals may enjoy earthy coffee flavors in the morning, we don't consider it a winner based on our tests.
Other excellent drip coffee makers
The Technivorm Moccamaster KBT is another great option if you prefer a relatively compact machine. It stands at about 15 inches tall and has a footprint of approximately 11 by 6 inches. It comes with a good thermal carafe and a simple interface. The machine also boasts a five-year warranty, surpassing any of our other recommendations. Technivorm brewers, which have various models available, have garnered a dedicated following. The KBT also features a unique switch on the filter basket that allows you to adjust the coffee steeping time. During our testing, our tasters enjoyed the coffee brewed by the KBT, although not more than the coffee made by the Bonavita Connoisseur or the 9-cup OXO. However, the KBT is significantly more expensive than our top pick, lacking user-friendly features such as a programmable timer and descaling reminders that the OXO offers.
Picture: Michael Hession
We were optimistic about the Breville Precision Brewer, a robustly built machine typically priced around $300. This drip coffee maker offers a multitude of brew settings, making it a favorite among craft-coffee enthusiasts. However, we found it somewhat challenging to get started. The initial setup involves measuring the hardness of your water using a test strip provided. Even with a decent brew, it took us over two hours to dial in. For those who enjoy experimenting or are particular about their coffee, the time invested in tinkering with this machine may be rewarding. It allows for adjustments in pre-infusion/bloom duration, water temperature, and flow rate. However, if you simply want to make a good pot of coffee without the learning curve, this machine might not be the right choice. Additionally, it operates at a loud volume. While we were captivated by its capabilities, we believe that this complex and expensive coffee maker may not be suitable for most people.
Surprisingly, the Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker, despite its clunky appearance, produced remarkably good coffee. It was expert Chi Sum Ngai’s top choice for flavor among the models tested in 2020. While the Ninja offers an array of brewing options, we don't believe that they contribute significantly to the overall value. The single-cup setting produced a noticeably weak beverage, and the attached milk-frothing wand proved to be nothing more than an electric whisk, akin to those available at any kitchen store for around $10. We are hesitant to recommend the Ninja due to some issues we encountered with our own unit. After each brew, it did not fully empty the water tank, leaving behind approximately half an inch of water, which could potentially lead to mold or mildew. Additionally, we have observed a higher-than-average number of negative reviews on both Ninja's website and Amazon, reporting product failure in less than a year. Considering its one-year warranty, we do not believe it is worth the $200 investment.
The Braun 10-Cup MultiServe Coffee Machine is, without a doubt, the worst coffee maker we have tested. The coffee it brewed consistently tasted terrible, reminiscent of burnt gas-station coffee. While this machine, like the Ninja and others we tested, offers numerous settings and features, such as single-cup and over-ice options, the unpleasant taste of the coffee overshadowed everything else.
The Zojirushi EC-YTC100XB 10-cup coffee maker brewed coffee at an incredibly slow pace, taking over 15 minutes to make a full pot. Additionally, using the SCA-approved coffee recipe, we found that irrespective of the number of times we brewed with this machine, the coffee consistently tasted weak. However, this model boasts an exceptional carafe, performing the best in our heat-retention tests.
Similar to the Bonavita Connoisseur, the Cuisinart CPO-850 has a compact footprint but improves upon the design with a carafe that the machine brews directly into. While the Cuisinart is easy to use, we found the flavor of the coffee to be somewhat one-dimensional and occasionally papery.
The Bonavita BV1900TS, a previous runner-up pick, is an earlier version of the Bonavita Connoisseur. Our tasters praised its well-balanced and flavorful brew. It is also speedy, brewing a liter of coffee in just 5 minutes and 20 seconds, including a pre-infusion period. However, it does suffer from a draughty gap underneath the machine's showerhead, as the filter basket sits directly on the carafe. Furthermore, its carafe tends to be drippy and clunky.
The Brim 8-Cup Pour Over Coffee Maker appears to be relatively expensive for what it offers. It lacks programmability, and a large gap between the showerhead and the filter basket allows a significant amount of heat to escape during the brewing process. The Chemex-shaped carafe can be challenging to grip with one hand and, due to its glass construction and lack of a lid, leads to quick cooling of the coffee, with the hot plate turning off after 30 minutes.
We conducted tests on several other Bonavita brewers similar to our also-great pick, the Connoisseur, including the Bonavita Metropolitan BV1901PW. This particular machine features a lightweight black plastic construction and a glass carafe. However, the coffee it produced did not meet the standards set by the OXO brewer, and we believe that most people would prefer a thermal carafe.
We also tested two "pour-over-style" brewers from Motif: the Motif Elements and the Motif Essential (which is a smaller version of the Elements). However, both models are currently difficult to find. The Elements offered a convenient removable water reservoir, but we found its overall construction to be subpar. The brewer was also larger in size, and the resulting coffee tasted flat and lacked complexity. The Essential, although smaller and occupying less counter space, produced brews that were similarly average. It also featured a flimsy interface, lacking the removable water reservoir of its larger counterpart.
The Cuisinart Brew Central Coffee Maker DCC-1200, part of our initial testing, remains one of the best-selling coffee makers on Amazon. However, in comparison to the $150-plus machines we tested, its coffee tasted dull.
For coffee enthusiasts willing to spend a significant amount on a high-end machine, there are a number of expensive and stylish coffee makers available in limited quantities. Clive Coffee's Ratio Eight and the Chemex Ottomatic are two notable examples. These machines are designed for connoisseurs seeking the experience of manually making pour-over coffee, including pre-infusing the grounds and carefully pouring hot water. However, it is challenging to identify any concrete benefits to these machines given their high price tags. Moreover, they are not as readily accessible as our top recommendations.
Here are some related articles on coffee makers that you may find useful:
- After testing more than 75 pots of coffee, we believe that the cleverly designed Espro P3 is the best French press for a bold yet balanced brew.
- After years of testing, we have determined that the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker is the best option. It consistently produces smooth, balanced, and delicious cold brew.
- After more than 120 hours of research and testing, we believe that the Breville Bambino Plus is the best espresso machine for beginners.
- We have been testing coffee grinders since 2015 and have yet to find a better value than the consistent, reliable, and repairable Baratza Encore.
- Through multiple rounds of testing since 2013, the Cuisinart CPK-17 has remained our favorite electric kettle. It is fast, accurate, and easy to use, all at an excellent price point.
- Among all the coffee makers priced under $100 that we have tested, the Ninja CE251 produces the best-tasting coffee and is easy to use.
- We have tasted over 150 cups of coffee to identify the best pour-over setup, which includes an easy-to-use dripper, reliable coffee grinder, and scale.
- Keurig machines brew expensive coffee that we didn't find particularly strong or tasty. Moreover, they often fail within the warranty period, while also contributing to environmental waste.
- All Nespresso machines produce identical drinks. Our recommendation is the Essenza Mini, as it gets the job done without occupying much space or including unnecessary extras.
- Chi Sum Ngai, CQI Arabica Q Grader and founder of Coffee Project NY, in-person interview, February 12, 2020.
- Matt Banbury, regional salesperson at Counter Culture Coffee, in-person interview, January 24, 2018.
- Ryan Ludwig, account manager at Counter Culture Coffee, in-person interview, January 24, 2018.
- Charles Babinski, co-owner of G&B Coffee and Go Get Em Tiger, phone interview, February 16, 2018.
- SCA Certified Home Brewer Program Minimum Certification Requirements (PDF), SCA, March 1, 2018.
- Best Coffee Maker (Automatic Drip), Cook's Illustrated, January 1, 2016.
- Matt Buchanan, The Best Automatic Coffee Machine, Gizmodo, February 16, 2012.
- Humberto Ricardo, owner of Third Rail Coffee, interview, October 1, 2014.
- Carlos Morales, barista, interview, October 1, 2014.
- Mark Hellweg, founder of Clive Coffee, October 1, 2014.
Marguerite Preston is a senior editor at Wirecutter, specializing in kitchen gear and appliances. She has authored guides on baking equipment, meal kit delivery services, and more. Previously, she worked as an editor for Eater New York and as a freelance food writer. Prior to that, she gained experience in professional kitchens as a pastry cook in New York.
by Wirecutter StaffWe believe that the OXO Brew 9 Cup Coffee Maker is the easiest way to brew excellent coffee. We also have recommendations for budget options, espresso machines, and more.
In conclusion, when it comes to finding the best drip coffee maker for you, there are plenty of excellent options to choose from. Whether you prefer the timeless design and advanced features of the Cuisinart Classic Thermal, the user-friendly interface of the Amazon Basics 12-Cup Digital Coffee Maker, or the reliable performance of the Coffee 10-Cup Programmable Coffee Machine, there is something for everyone. Don't overlook the other good drip coffee makers on the market as well, as they may offer unique features or exceptional quality that suits your brewing preferences perfectly. So go ahead and start your mornings off right with a delicious and perfectly brewed cup of drip coffee from one of these top-notch machines. Happy brewing!
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